SEATTLE — For the past few years running, the RDX simply felt like a slightly more refined version of the Honda CR-V. For the first time, we’re told that Acura has developed this RDX on an all-new, exclusive to Acura platform. The 2019 RDX A-Spec finally feels like a luxury crossover from Acura. For too long, the RDX has sort of loomed in the shadows of its Japanese competition from Lexus and Infiniti. It simply had a less elegant feel to it. Thankfully, Acura took note and has not only refined the 2019 RDX on the inside but have done a graceful job of implementing the current Acura design language on the exterior.
For this model year, Acura has dropped in a 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine that’s turbo-charged and good for 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. Turbo-lag is rather minimal and still feels very responsive across the entire RPM spectrum. Additionally, there’s a 10-speed automatic transmission that has a very low first gear, for those jack-rabbit launches and its 10th gear really helps dial in the fuel economy.
There are four driver-adjusted driving modes: Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. In each mode, the transmission can feel a bit lazy at times, however, you can compensate that a touch, by using the paddle shifters. Even though the overall horsepower is a tad lower than last year’s V6 engine, the RDX will still get to 60 in about 6.6 seconds. Not a speed record, but certainly no slouch either. The EPA rates the fuel economy at 21 around town and 26 on the highway. Given its small engine displacement and 10-speed transmission, however, we’d like to see better fuel economy.
The fit and finish of the A-Spec interior is impeccable. From the stitched leather that abounds to the way the seats feel like a well-fitted glove. Everything inside this vehicle simply feels very upscale and less, well, Honda-ish. And that’s a great step forward for the Acura moniker.
There was, however, one thing that instantly triggered a bit of PTSD. The all-new touch-pad interface to navigate the infotainment system. When I first sat inside and noticed it, I had a nightmare that I was back inside of a current Lexus (which uses a horrible touchpad). For a moment, I was worried I may need to seek professional help. Fortunately, after using it for a bit more time, I quickly realized that not only does it function differently than anything Lexus currently has but that it kind of made sense. It felt logical.
The team at Acura has made the first in-car touchpad that has relative movement points on the pad verses what you see on-screen. That means, that the lower right-corner of the touchpad is the lower-right corner of the screen. This removes the floating cursor nightmares we see in Lexus and after a day or so, feels completely normal. This is augmented by a touch-sensitive pad that will allow you to buzz around the screen liken to that have a touch-surface like a cellphone screen yet still feels tactical. It’s simply a huge leap over other touchpads out there.
The ELS audio system in our A-Spec model is the first audio system we’ve ever seen in any new car, that uses speakers in the headliner to create a 3-dimensional sound-field. The end result is a system that, hands-down, delivers the best imaging and staging we’ve ever heard in any new car, period. On most of the content listened to, it literally sounds as if the vocalist is singing right in front of your face. The only thing we’d like to see improved upon is the bass response. It’s good but far from being great – like you can get in the high-end Nakamichi systems in Lexus or the Infinity systems in KIA. Those offerings have bass response that you can literally feel.
A spacious cargo space
Even though it’s considered a small crossover, the inside still has a spacious feel to it. The RDX can comfortably seat four adults with a kid in the middle back seat. The front passenger will enjoy a seat that adjusts just like the driver. And there’s still plenty of cargo space in the rear for those shopping trips to Costco.
TO drive the RDX is a pleasure. With not a ton of body roll around hard corners, it provides a very spirited driving experience. And the all-wheel-drive system gives you confidence and peace of mind, while driving in inclement weather. It’s sporty enough to make you feel in charge while on the road, yet forgiving enough to keep things comfortable, even for longer excursions.
Acura has done a great job of updating the RDX. They now feature a great combination of styling, performance, braking, handling, and interior quality. If you’re in the market for a small, luxury SUV then give the 2019 RDX a solid look. But first, forget everything you knew about previous years vehicles.
Price as tested: $46,495
For more details, visit www.acura.com